Blog - June 2018

New Leaders Must Go To Work On The Business, As Well As In It!

Taking on a business leadership role is both exciting  and challenging. One of the most thrilling executive experiences is seeing a business idea take-off. Whether your objective is start-up, growth, recovery or mergers and acquisitions, you’ll need a compelling plan to reach your goals. Here are my ten tips on creating and delivering a successful corporate strategy.

1. Hit the road!

It’s vital to tune into the big picture as early as possible. In my first few weeks as CEO at ABE I spent little time in the office. I visited customers, end-users, regulators, suppliers and stakeholders to understand their needs and motivations. Most new leaders approach an assignment with strong ideas in place, but it’s important to road-test your ideas as soon as possible. Find out what customers really like about your company, what keeps them awake at night and what they’d like to change more generally about how they operate, this will go a long way to helping you create a compelling value proposition.

2. Challenge the ‘dominant logic’

Businesses often get stuck in a certain way of doing things, and settle for the status-quo. When you’re fresh in a new role this is a perfect time to be hyper-curious and ask probing questions. Your aim should be perfecting every fundamental of the business and this usually involves making changes, perhaps even uncomfortable or unpopular moves. When Dan Birnbaum took over as CEO at Soda-Stream, a company which boasted more than 95% share of the declining ‘home carbonation market’, he shocked the company out of its comfort zone by announcing that its target market was instead the entire fizzy drinks market and that its competitors were now Pepsi and Coca-Cola. It now had less than 0.5% share of its target market! Soda-Stream would have to rebuild its market from the bottom and think very differently about how to do this. Such changes can seem daunting. Shortly after joining ABE I invited a member of the British Paralympic ski team, who had overcome severe life-changing injuries, to talk to all ABE staff, sharing his personal insights about challenging pre-conceptions and pushing through barriers. New leaders should challenge their business to think differently if they want it to evolve.

3. Be a time traveller

Business leaders need to be able to see further into the future than most. In your new role you’ll need to shuttle effortlessly between the present and various possible futures. I typically spend between 30% - 50% of my time thinking about the long term, scanning my networks and tapping into diverse sources of information. I believe that the next big change in the industry will likely come from outside it, rather than within. This helps in sensing changes and opportunities that are upstream, but beware, too much future-gazing can be dangerous if you lose sight of the challenges in the here and now. Your staff need to know that your head is in the game today but that you have a vision of how the market will play out. But spend too much time on the nuts and bolts holding today’s business together and you will end up walking backwards into the future. Find your balance, don’t lose sight of the small things today but make sure that they crescendo towards the big impact you want to deliver.

4. Control the controllables

Many plans fail because they dwell too much on the aspirational or count on things which are often hard to predict or which are beyond your control. Think carefully about what actual levers are available to you in the business cockpit. These are aspects of the business that you can directly change or influence, such as costs or where the business focuses its resources, and start with influencing how you optimise those.

5. Create a burning imperative

You will need to galvanise the business around a shared goal or common enemy. This is the mission that unites everyone in the short term to reach the long-term goal. It’s useful to find a message that acts as a shared internal shorthand which clarifies the challenge and acts as a touchstone for decision making. Fuji wanted to grow its share of the camera film market and so staffers used to rally around the burning imperative of ‘Kill Kodak!’ as they sought to direct all of their efforts at undermining that one major competitor. Every small decision about manufacturing, logistics, and sales was washed the question, ‘is this better, cheaper, faster or smarter than the competitor?’ Knowing what to focus on day-to-day is just as important as knowing where you want to end up.

6. Act with speed and conviction

Often, change programmes fail because they get dragged out too long, or leaders wait to have near 100% certainty that it’s the right course of action. Once you’ve plotted your course, don’t waste time – go full steam ahead! A wrong decision is usually better than no decision at all which can paralyse an organisation creating more problems. Do not invest too much energy on being liked or protecting teams from painful decisions, and back your own instincts.

7. Make your motive crystal clear

Once you’ve completed your analysis and decided on your strategy, communication is vital. Everyone should have access to the business’ strategic plan, and understand the role they will play in delivering it. Just as importantly, staff should understand the rationale and motivations underpinning your plan. Why do you want to move into a new market? Why are you changing your product line-up? Why are you focusing on costs? Understanding the reason behind a plan will make it much easier for people to ‘live it’.

8. Be obsessed with outcomes

One of my favourite quotes from Winston Churchill is “No matter how beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results”. He was talking about the tendency for many people to see planning as an end in itself. For your plan to succeed you’ll need an unrelenting focus on delivering business results. It’s critical to have good data dashboards, clear lines of accountability for people to own targets and regular quantitative reporting. Establish key performance indicators early on and line-up regular business reviews for tracking performance.

9. Step back and let staff deliver

Now that you have a clear plan based on things that your business can control, and that has been communicated effectively, you must now stand back and let your teams deliver. It’s my view that authority should usually be placed at the lowest level possible. This means trusting staff to act decisively and giving them the support they need to be successful.

10. Get ready to improvise

By now, your powers of analysis and forecasting will be pretty sharp. But there’s a phrase used in the military; “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” This means that no matter how robust your planning, there will always be significant challenges to overcome. Reaching your stated objective is always the mission, but be prepared to think creatively about how you get there based on real-time feedback from the market. If you need to change your approach, don’t delay!

 

Remember that leading a business, a division or a team is a difficult and complex challenge, especially with so much disruption in the modern marketplace, which is why so many big companies or bright ideas can often fail. ABE Qualifications don’t just give you essential business skills, they will also help you to develop critical business instincts, ensuring that you are fully prepared to rise to the challenge and enjoy a successful career in leadership.

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New leaders must go to work on the business, as well as in it

Caroline Kahende, Kenya - Top Paper Award in Dynamic Business Environments, studied at Oshwal College

Karungari KahendeI was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. I am an only child to the awesome Mr and Mrs Kahende. I completed my secondary education back in 2011 and went on to pursue a degree in Journalism at United States International University-Africa (USIU-A). I majored in Public Relations, which is my passion.

My primary career focus is crisis management and stakeholder relations, both of which are fundamental to any organisation -  be it government or private. Earlier in 2016, I began my graduate studies at the same university and I am set to complete in 2019. I am currently working at a PR agency in Nairobi known as Tell EM Public Relations.

 PR is not just about communications, but managing your clients’ portfolio. The ABE management course allows me to understand management from a business context, which I can then apply in my daily tasks.

I appreciate the level of professionalism the lecturers treat the course with and the depth of learning material that ABE provides. The knowledge I gained within those six months of studying business management is invaluable.

I have gained time management skills, I have learnt to manage my tasks better, and I also have better understanding of how the business environment runs.  Be committed in all you do. It requires one to dedicate time to study the course work but the knowledge gained is invaluable.

In the next three years, I plan on pursuing a career in government by working as a communication expert/analyst.

 

Zhong Danling, China - Top Paper Award in Effective Financial Management, studied at Guangdong Peizheng College

Zhong DanlingI come from Guangdong province in China.There are seven people in my family. My dad is a businessman, my mom is a housewife. I have two younger sisters and two younger brothers. I am currently sophomore student.

I chose to study ABE because it can strengthen English as well as business management professional skills and it is convenient for travelling abroad, studying abroad and other related activities.

Chinese students must learn both English and business management skills. For most people, it is more difficult. And there are few institutions to learn and the threshold for learning is high. Although it is a bit difficult to learn, it is a professional skill that is difficult to duplicate. There are many benefits to our employment or future.  I plan to start preparing for IELTS and I want to study abroad to learn more.

I think the best thing is that the ABE learning method makes it easier for us to get a degree and saves a lot of time.  I learned different communication and strategic skills in the workplace.The most important thing is to learn business management skills.

Don't just use one way to study. Use a variety of methods which will involve all parts of your brain . It's important to study every day. However, don't exaggerate! Study for thirty minutes every day instead of two hours once a week. Short, steady practice is much better for learning than long periods on an irregular basis. This habit of studying every day will help keep knowledge fresh in your brain.

In terms of my own view of professional competence, in a certain sense, my perceptual ability far exceeds reason, my logical thinking ability is high, but my language expression ability is medium. I am more interested in the majors I have studied and will choose careers related to management after graduation. First of all, I will exercise myself at the grassroots level and look for the best direction for development. Second, I will determine my own goals based on my own work experience. Finally, if time is good, I believe there will be good results.

Austin Mbeta, Malawi - Top Paper Award in Principles of Marketing, studied at Pact College

Austin Mbeta I am Malawian by origin, a member of a family of six people, me as the first born child.  Religion wise, we are Jehovah witness believers.  

I started my ABE studies at Western College where I achieved my Level 4 Diploma  then I transferred to Pact College in Blantyre.  I have just passed my Level 5 Diploma in Marketing Management and am advancing to Level 6.

My childhood dream was to study marketing and be a good marketer.  I chose ABE because it provided me with a simple path to achieved this dream of mine, mostly because ABE is affordable and  flexible and it’s easy to adapt and learn ABE courses.  The way the curriculum is designed is eye opening and has help me to learn and gain skills which I can use in the corporate world.  

The best thing about ABE is the affordability of its courses, as this has reduced the risk of not finishing our studies.  Business environment analysis is a skill I have gained; now I can easily understand and analyse the business environment with the use of different theories and models.  Studying long hours is not always a key to understanding something but showing an interest and commitment is.

Long term I plan to gain experience in the corporate world and open up my very own marketing agency.

Hazra Ogir, Trinidad & Tobago - Top Paper Award in Financial Accounting, studied at SITAL College of Tertiary Education

Hazra OgirI am a wife, business owner, and mother to a fourteen-year-old girl. My daughter and I are currently both studying, which is great because we get to bond over this. Whilst I study, I make sure that she does her homework, as well as try to assist her where I can. I want to be a role model for her and show her that learning is a continuous process and there is no age limit in education and achieving your goals. 

Within my country ABE is a highly recognised accreditation. I chose to study ABE because it was the recommended programme that I should take to attain the additional knowledge and competencies required for my job, and I was also confident that the modules would help me improve my general business knowledge. 

I am currently studying my ABE course at SITAL School of Tertiary Education. The structure of the program gives students a holistic view of a business environment; looking at the characteristics of an organisation and the factors that can affect this. We were also given the opportunity to explore human capital, and its importance to business. I am happy with my decision to study at SITAL, which providea flexible study, which is great for a person like myself who cannot commit to full-time study.

In my view studying ABE qualifications has made me a better person. It has taught me to not only see what is in front of me but to delve deeper as there are many layers that we need to understand to manage a business successfully. Managing people and a business is always a challenge, especially where satisfying stakeholder expectations is concerned. I believe I have gained valuable insight and the right tools needed to analyse situations more comprehensively and make better decisions. I am now more confident in achieving my long-term goal of operating a successful business.

I am not a believer in "cramming". It may work successfully for some people but not me. I think putting in the work from the beginning makes a huge difference in the end. It is important to schedule good time for your studies. We all have busy lives and sometimes this can be the last thing we make time for, thinking that there is plenty of time to catch up, only to realise too late the volume and capacity of work that has been left undone. Flash cards work great when revising important summaries and can be used on the go.

                                                                                    

Wai Yan Moe, Myanmar - Top Paper Award in Business Management at the Business Institute Yangon (BIY)

Wai Yan MoeI am a 20-year-old student from Yangon. Despite being the only child in my family, my parents taught me to become independent and adaptable to different settings. After I finished high school, I worked as a volunteer organiser in a non-profit organisation. Simultaneously, I was searching for private foreign institutes which offered diplomas and degrees. During my pursuit, my uncle recommended that I study ABE as he had used the qualifications to help him do his MBA abroad.

ABE is recognised globally and has produced many successful entrepreneurs in Myanmar; where the superiority of the qualifications is evident in job requirements. Employers recognise ABE and many managers themselves are holders of ABE qualifications.

I chose to begin my journey with ABE at Business Institute Yangon (BIY) because of its excellent service, reputable lecturers, and strategic partnerships with local and foreign institutes.

Since completing my ABE Level 5 Diploma, I joined BBA Programme from Paris Graduate School of Management at BIY. The university recognises ABE as a valuable prior learning assessment, which sets me on the fast path to graduation. I am determined to carry on studying my ABE Level 6 Diploma next year before I do my MBA and found a start-up.

The best thing about ABE is that it connects theoretical concepts with real-world business practices. Therefore, the students have to read case studies, which help them in decision making.

Since I did not have a lot of real-world business experiences, I paid close attention to the lecturers. In addition, I studied according to the learning outcomes, practised previous exam papers and read articles from business journals and Harvard Business Review. In my free time, I listened to podcasts, watched business news, educational YouTube videos and TED Talks. I also help my friends studying ABE Level 5 in school; sharing my knowledge and experiences in conversation clubs. Thanks to ABE and BIY, I have gained many skills.

In order to achieve a Top Paper Award, a student should know how to answer assessment questions creatively using real-world experiences. I would like to give my appreciation to HR lecturer Professor U Aye Kyaw who always teaches students by connecting theoretical concepts with his years of professional, and life experiences. I am also grateful to our principal Dr Aye Aye Mar for sending the students to soft skills training in the strategic partner institutes, organising the field trips to Myanmar’s top organisations, and providing other courses such as presentation class, and academic writing class.      

Landrine Mbidimbom, Cameroon - Top Paper Award in International Business Finance and Planning, studied at London Institute of Infotech & Professional Training

landrine mbidimbomI am the second (a twin) in a family of five children.

Actually, I chose to study ABE firstly because my mother gave me the impression that it was the best and again because of the motivative, captivating and convincing way the teachers use to gain members in their institute and I came to realise myself that it was the best.

The public and employers see ABE as a field for training professionals. After I finish my ABE courses I hope to work for a while to gather money and then start up my own business.

The best thing about ABE is that it trains its members to become professionals not just write exam and pass without knowing anything. Our director always tells us that we should, "Pass the profession and fail the exam". That's to say we should not only focus on writing exams and passing but we should also focus on becoming professionals. One successful study tip first is to surrender your exam to God because he's the best teacher and also group studies. Actually, I must tell you that studying in a group helps a lot. 

Jasreet Bharij, Kenya - Top Paper Award in Finance for Managers, studied at SCLP Samaj Australian College

Jasreet Kaur Bharij

I live iNairobi city with my grandparents, parents and my brother. My family supports me with love and care to ensure I achieve my best. I completed my O levels passing with excellent results.

I decided to undertake ABE as it provides me with professional qualifications. ABE allows me to have the skills for management. Moreover it helps to improve my understanding about the different job roles.

Employers value the ABE qualification as they are aware and value the skills that employees are able to achieve through ABE hence making a difference in their organisations. While the public appreciates ABE as it is an affordable course that also encourages diversity.

I plan to continue with ABE till Level 6 while specialising in Human Resources. ABE is very co-operative when communicating to members. Furthermore they provide detailed manuals about different units. I understood vital parts of different industries and management.  I have gained communication skills, leadership skills and the ability to resolve conflicts.

Members should be very attentive during lectures and should always ask for clarification when they don’t understand. Furthermore I would suggest members be open minded.

My long term career plan is to undertake a Human Resource Management degree and Business Management degree.

 

 

Wasim Jamil Mulji, Kenya - Top Paper Award in Economics for Business, studied at Jaffrey Institute of Professional Studies

Wasim MuljiI live in the coastal city of Mombasa. Being the last born, and the youngest in my entire paternal family, the benchmarks set were indeed daunting. However, with the support of my incredible parents and sister (I would be lying if I hadn’t said that she set the highest benchmark), my journey through my educational background was challenging, though fun. At 18 years old, I have tried to accomplish a lot to the best of my ability. Oshwal Academy Mombasa was the first stage of my education, where I found passing junior school and senior school to be a breeze. I enjoyed collecting some good memories, positions of responsibility and achieving my IGCSE O Level grades. Thereafter, I enrolled myself in Jaffery Institute of Professional Studies early 2017, where I currently pursue ABE Level 5 qualifications.

Inspired by the phrase “best practice” emphasised by His Highness the Aga Khan, I chose to study ABE as I believed it would be the best option to progress my dream of becoming successful in the business field one day. ABE gave me the flexible options to gain credits which will be incredibly handy whilst applying to universities, as well as a plus point on the basis of merits, thanks to this award, which I am grateful to receive.

I began my studies with ABE Level 4 and I am very much grateful for the support of my college throughout the process. Jaffery Institute of Professional Studies has been with me throughout my journey; it is the supportive administration staff, good friendship and incredibly talented mentors and tutors, who have helped in guiding me to succeed.

ABE is not predominant in Kenya; however, many are realising its potential to unlock career options and awareness is indeed spreading. Previous Jaffery alumni have used their ABE Diploma to get themselves respectable positions in companies, which fuels my hope to one-day reach such heights within the business sector. The future seems bright for ABE in Kenya, as many are taking an interest in the qualification.

God willing, my plan after studying ABE would be to use my merit and Level 5 Diploma to gain credits and complete a Bachelors degree with an ABE affiliated university. After this, I would like to begin working and trying my best to ascend to new heights within my career.

The biggest advantage of studying with ABE is the relatable, and extremely thorough units provided at every level. Each unit focuses on different aspects of business and gives a complete understanding of the ever changing nature of the business environment. The updated RQF qualifications, with the new addition of assignments, gives ABE students a chance to sit for exams each quarter, speeding up the completion time of the course, and increasing chances of success.

Although I have not begun working, I feel like ABE has equipped me with the necessary skills to kick start my working life. I now possess a new range of skills; writing memos, reports, taking minutes, corporate letter writing, mapping stakeholders in MSR, identifying business needs, and a thorough understanding of organisational strategy, and international standards. 

I believe that everyone has their own manner of studying that works and applies to them. Some may study by reciting aloud, some with writing down key points, others with their own ingenious form of recalling, but what I can stress is the importance of organising your time. Time is something that doesn’t wait for you, so plan accordingly and exploit it to the best of your ability. That, in my view, is the key to success.

I do not know what my future holds, but keeping my dreams and aspirations in mind, I want to get an MBA, and then go on to achieve a PhD, because being called a Doctor without doing a medicinal degree sure does sound attractive to me! I would also love to work hard and earn a position in the top-level management of a company one day; trying to improve and grow, whilst investing my ideas, and skills fostered by ABE.

Getrude Opare, Ghana - Top Paper Award in Enterprising Organisations, studied at Zenith University College

Gertrude OpareI am in a family of five and was born on the 15th of November 1996. I am from Akwatia in the Eastern Region of Ghana.

I chose to study ABE, because it is recognised globally and their courses are practical. I enrolled on the ABE programme at Zenith University College because of its excellent credibility. Employers recognise ABE as a well-qualified programme which is an advantage for candidates applying for a position.

My plan is to continue ABE till I complete level 6. I have improved on my communication and time management skills.  My tips for study success are to research on all that you are required to know, don’t miss lectures and read to understand the study guides.

My future plan is to have my own business.

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